At the Domaine du Granit, Franck Bessone (and his father-in-law Gino Bertolla before him) makes some of the very best Moulin-à-Vent you will ever taste. Franck also makes Chénas at his own home, Domaine de la Croix Barraud just up the road in Chénas, and is a major advocate of the Chénas Cru.
Gino Bertolla is now retired and Franck has taken over the running of both estates. Not only are they gifted winemakers, they are also fortunate enough to own some of the finest parcels of vines in the appellation. These include many extremely old vines, some in excess of 100 years old which were producing wine before the outbreak of the First World War.
They are amazing ancient examples producing tiny quantities of grapes with huge concentration of flavours and pigment. The vineyards are located on a windswept hillside with soils of decomposed pink granite, high above the famous eponymous windmill. This can indeed seem a bleak place in winter with the bare gnarled vines under leaden skies giving little hint as to what these extraordinary plants are capable of producing. The slightly cooler temperatures, due to a higher elevation, the shallow and very rocky granitic soil and the age of the vines all explain the austerity of the wines in their youth, with strong mineral character and great ageing potential.
Franck Bessone' Wines
The wines are rich, dark, heady and perfumed - a very Burgundian style of Gamay not really comparable with other Beaujolais Crus. The reason stems from the soil - Moulin-à-Vent has very unique decomposed pink granite topsoil over varying concentrations of Manganese. Vines don't particularly like this and drive their roots deep to work hard to produce fruit and in doing so bring all those minerals to it. Soil types such as these give places like Hermitage, Côte-Rôtie, and Cornas their highly mineral quality and Bertolla's Gamay seems to have many of the characteristics normally associated with Syrah grown in these tricky spots whilst still maintaining the black cherry Burgundian qualities.
In the cellar Franck adopts increasingly what I would call a historical approach, working simply with natural yeasts, long maceration, slow fermentation, barrel-ageing and bottling without filtration. The resulting range of wines bears little resemblance to the fresh fruity specimens for which Gamay is famous. Somewhat grander in style altogether, these are how old-time great Gamay can taste. They can be a little austere when young (less so the Cuvée Tradition), ideally needing some bottle age and they do age beautifully, like fine Burgundies. They are perhaps best classified as halfway between the style of a heavier Beaujolais Cru and a Burgundy. To drink one of these Moulins is to experience a fabulous expression of the soil, a man's dedication, with a complexity you would never have thought possible from a Beaujolais.
Domaine du Granit was created in 1974 when Alfred and his wife, née Colette Mazoyer, succeeded her father Lucien Mazoyer. Her grandfather Claude had acquired some vineyards in the hamlet of La Rochelle in 1918, six years before the creation of the Moulin-à-Vent appellation.